In a first after Independence, coinciding with the 90th anniversary of the Indian Air Force a new operational branch has been created — Weapon Systems (WS) Branch.
This was announced by the IAF chief Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhari at the air force parade at Chandigarh on Saturday.
According to an official statement issued by the Ministry of Defence this will help in the unification of all weapon system operators under one entity which will be dedicated to the operational employment of all ground-based and also specialist airborne weapon systems.
More about the Weapon Systems Branch
In his address at the Parade the IAF Chief said that these four sub-streams are mainly to man four specialised streams including: remotely-piloted aircraft, surface-to-air missiles; surface-to-surface missiles, and weapon system operators in twin- and multi-crew aircraft.
This will be divided into four sub-streams and each will have its own skill set. This means that each branch would induct cadre of officers with specialised skills.
According to the IAF Chief this will also help in savings of almost Rs 3, 400 crore as it will reduce the expenditure on flying training.
First on the list is `Flying’
This will have officers who will be weapons systems operators in twin-engine twin seater fighter aircraft, the Su-30 MKI (IAF has around 265 in its fleet).
Also, those flying Attack helicopters which are all twin-set versions and this category includes the latest Light Combat Helicopter, Apache AH-64E from Boeing, and Mi -25/35 the Russian make.
Second sub-stream is Remote
The operators of the UAVs which were inducted in the service include the domestic armed version of the UAVs and also in the future operators of the Predator drones from the US based General Atomics.
Third sub-stream is Intelligence
This sub-stream will have analysts of imagery which has been obtained through surveillance carried out by the UAVs or through satellites. There will be information warfare specialists; analysts of intelligence inputs, observers and signal intelligence collation.
And also, operators of space systems will be part of this sub-system.
Fourth sub-stream is Surface
Besides the newly inducted S-400 air defence system from Russia, there will be mission commanders, and also operators of surface-to-surface missiles, surface-to-air guided weapons and other than close-in weapons systems.